• UK car manufacturing broke all-time export records in 2012, with volumes sent overseas exceeding 1.2m, up 8% on 2011;
  • Total vehicle output increased 8% last year to 1.58m units, the highest level since 2008;
  • Car output rose 9% in 2012 to 1.46m units, ending the year with a 6% rise in December; 
  • UK car production could hit 2m pa by 2016 - KPMG

UK car exports broke all-time export records in 2012, with overseas shipments exceeding 1.2m, up 8% on 2011, according to data released by the SMMT. Total car output was up 9% to 1.46m units.

Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive said: "2012 was a very good year for UK car production with record levels of exports and volumes at their highest since 2008.

"The outlook for 2013 remains positive with demand in many faster growing global markets offsetting the continued weakness in European economies. The GBP6bn of investment committed to UK facilities, new model programmes and R&D signals a bright future and many new opportunities for companies in the supply chain.  These remain extremely challenging times and it is essential industry and government continue to work together to secure long-term industrial growth."

Business Secretary Vince Cable said, "News that UK car production increased by 9% in 2012 and exports are at record levels is a great tribute to our manufacturing strengths, particularly in the face of challenging trading conditions in Europe and strong international competition.

 "The UK is achieving success by making products that are in demand across the world. We have a diverse and innovative automotive sector with some of the most productive plants in the world and a flexible, skilled and committed workforce.

"The government is creating a highly supportive business environment to ensure that UK manufacturers continue to flourish as well as encouraging further investment in the UK automotive sector, including the supply chain.

"There is no room for complacency and to build on this competitive advantage we are working jointly with the auto sector on a long term industrial strategy.”

UK car production could hit 2m in 2016, says KPMG 

Consultants KPMG forecast that UK car production could continue to grow to as much as 2m a year by 2016.

John Leech, UK Head of Automotive at KPMG, also highlighted the performance of Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover in 2012's output growth.

“News that UK car production set an all-time export record is clearly welcome and has essentially been driven by great performances at both JLR and Nissan.  JLR’s Range Rover is the vehicle that best meets the consumer aspirations of the fast-growing middle-class in emerging markets, especially China, while Nissan’s Qashqai kick-started the fast-growing urban crossover vehicle segment.”

Leech also warned that the eurozone crisis will impact the UK car manufacturing sector, while also taking a more upbeat view of medium-term prospects.

“The dramatic fall in car sales throughout the Eurozone has undoubtedly impacted the UK car industry and has hit Honda and Ford’s Transit production already.  There remains further risk that production will fall in the first quarter of 2013 as the Eurozone remains under pressure.

“However, the medium-term prospects of the UK car industry remain excellent and UK vehicle production could hit the 2 million mark in 2016.  This will be driven by new vehicle production plans in place at Nissan, JLR and other UK car plants that should be resilient to continuing eurozone weakness.”

SMMT Cars Commercial Vehicles Total Vehicles Total Engines
Data. Dec 12 YTD-12 Dec 12 YTD-12 Dec 12 YTD-12 Dec 12 YTD-12
Total 101740 1464906 6851 112039 108591 1576945 150204 2495371
% change 6.20% 9.00% -18.90% -6.80% 4.20% 7.70% -0.80% -0.30%
Export 84986 1212031 3550 63733 88536 1275764 96933 1554208
% change 4.20% 7.80% -26.70% -8.10% 2.50% 6.80% -2.10% -11.60%
% of total 83.50% 82.70% 51.80% 56.90% 81.50% 80.90% 64.50% 62.30%
Home 16754 252875 3301 48306 20055 301181 53271 941163
% change 17.50% 15.40% -8.40% -4.90% 12.30% 11.60% 1.70% 26.20%
% of total 16.50% 17.30% 48.20% 43.10% 18.50% 19.10% 35.50% 37.70%